Saturday, April 06, 2013

The Transmogrification of Dreams into Hopes

I think I am a dreamer.  But that doesn't mean I have much hope.  
I've been working with Dramatic Pro a lot recently.  I've mention this program in past blogs.  To recap quickly, it is a story generation program.  By answering a very detailed series of questions based on a theory of story the creators of the program have developed, you get a bible to follow for writing it.  It will give you organize everything from the character backgrounds and relationships to scene breakdowns.  I've used it for several years now, typically to help me problem solve stories that didn't seem to be working.  A month ago I decided to use it as it was intended, putting in the information for the novel and going through the entire process.  Thus far, I've already generated a 113 page, very detailed report about the story's background.  I'm starting the portion of the process of breaking down and plotting the scenes that need to be in the novel based on that background.  
One concept unique to Dramatica Pro is that of Dynamic Pairs.  These are...  Concepts, I'll call them, that give focus to the themes of the story you're trying to build, or to the characters' motivations or behaviors.  "Doer vs. Be-er," for example, is one of the dynamic pairs related to character.  Does the character try to change his environment, reshaping it to fit his/her desires (Doer), or does he or she try to find a balance within that environment, working to deal with it as best they can (Be-er).  
While working on my novel, Dramatica Pro brought to my attention a Dynamic Pair that I hadn't dealt with before, but which it said was important to my novel based on the way I answered the questions: Dreams vs. Hopes.
At first glance, one might think that Dreams and Hopes are almost the same thing.  The distinction, per Dramatica Pro, rests on expectation.  "Dreams," according to the program's definition, are things or conditions that are desired, but which fall outside reasonable expectation.  "Hopes," by way of contrast, are desired things or conditions one can reasonably expect to achieve or have come to pass.  
When I read the definition, I could see how this was important to my story.  My protagonist is a young man named Enrico Paoli.  He is a Second Son, the second male child in a fantasy world where the First Son inherits everything.  Second Sons in this world are either apprenticed to masters to learn a trade if they come from well to do families, seek jobs are servants if they are of the lower class, or follow "a second son's path," becoming soldiers or initiates in the church.  
Enrico, however, due to a promise made to him when he saved his older brother from drowning when they were younger, has other expectations.  Per his brother's promise, he was to inherit the family's very prosperous inn, The Two Doves, to run as his own as his mother did while she was alive.  His brother Giuseppe was going to keep the family farm on the outskirts of town, where he prefers to live and work anyway.  
Unfortunately for Enrico (there had to be something unfortunate happening for this to be a story), learns that the circumstances have changed, and obtaining his beloved inn comes into serious doubt.  What happens, in Dramatica Pro terms, is that his "Hope," his reasonable expectation of becoming master of the Two Doves inn, is turned into a "Dream," something he desires greatly, but which is now put out of reach.  The story is about his efforts to restore that Dream back into a Hope (or even reality).  
Not surprisingly, when it comes to the story of my life, I feel like I'm trying to do the same thing.  
I am a Dreamer.  I would say that is true in the general sense, but I'm coming to the conclusion that it describes me in the Dramatica Pro sense as well.  A good deal of the the things I want, the conditions I want to bring into my life, have the feeling of being "Dreams."  Things I want that seem less and less likely to come true: A Family of My Own, in its minimal description of a Spouse to share my life.  The Life of a Professional Writer.  A Home of My Very Own.  These and other things have been buffed and polished so many times in my imagination that they now have a brilliant, dream-like sheen.  They glitter and gleam and light up my dreams and day-dreams like beacons when things get particularly difficult.  But will-o'-the-wisps are lights in the darkness too, famous for not leading you anywhere.  
For a Dream to become a Hope, you have to add something to it.  
I went to WonderCon last week.  It's a small comic book convention that used to be up in San Francisco, but which is now at the Anaheim Convention Center in the spring.  The last panel of the day was a "Comic Creator Connection."  Sort of like speed-dating for writers and artists.  The writers go around the outside of the circle and spend five minutes with one of the artists seated on the inside of the circle.  The hope is that you find a connection with someone to work with to create a comic book together.  It's a terrific idea and I was happy to participate.  At the end of the session, the moderator made everyone raise their hands and swear an oath: 
Moderator: "I...  State your name..."  
Everyone: "I...  State your name..."  
We all promised to follow up with at least three of the people we'd met during the session "before our heads hit our pillows that night."  
I didn't keep my promise.  I got home late, you see, and laid down on the couch to watch TV for a bit.  I eventually fell asleep and well...  I figured, you know...  And I really didn't have anything I could start on IMMEDIATELY, right?  So, I...  
It's been like that with me recently.  Not exactly just going through the motions.  I'm keeping my dream alive.  Working on my novel six days out of seven, and going to WonderCon to remind myself what I want to do.  But I'm realizing now that my dreams are not turning into hopes.  I'm not expecting things to go my way, and so I'm not doing all I can to make them happen.  
Dreams are pretty.  All they have to do is move through your mind and look like everything you want them to be.  Hopes are uglier, in a way.  They have pieces of reality stuck to them, like warts on a princess.  Things you need to take care of, get done, deal with, for them to have a chance to become.  
Hopes are Dreams you've started to raise to become Truth.  And just as taking care of a child is dirty and difficult work at times, taking a dream from its "all things are possible" infancy through the unruly teenage years of hopefulness needs planning and doing.  
So...  What do I need to do with this realization?  
How about...   Go to Japan?  
It's been a dream of mine to go back to Japan.  I went there in the summer of 2007.  I've told people that my "plan" is to go there at least three more times, one trip in each of the other seasons, Fall, Winter and Spring.  I imagine the places I might visit that I haven't seen yet.  I want to do it.  It's been seven years.  
So, I'm turning the dream into a hope by doing this.  I will go to Japan in October of this year.  I saw an add for a nine day cruise around the Inland Sea of Japan.  I know one of the departure dates is in October.  I'll plan my trip around that.  
And...  Tonight, "before my head hits my pillow," I'll send at least three emails to the most promising artists I met last week.  I'll start each email with, "I know I promised to send this email last week, but..."  I'll try to think of something clever to add after that. 
And, I will look at each and every dream I have and see what it needs to become 'reasonable.'  I will write down what it needs and figure out where I need to go and who I need to speak to in order to give it that thing.  It will be like putting chains on my car, so I can get up the snowy road.  
I remember the story of Pandora's box.  When she was tricked into opening it, and all the evils of the world, war, pestilence, etc., were released into the world.  Hope was the only thing that remained in the box.  Or more precisely, the Spirit of Hope.  A spirit that tells you it's time to roll of one's sleeves and get to work.  


Anonymous AnnD said...

GO Erick!

April 7, 2013 at 12:32 PM  
Blogger slcard said...

Yes, my friend. And when the chains don't work, get out and walk.

Here's to all your hopes.

April 8, 2013 at 4:18 PM  

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